I am a person who stops reading books constantly. I have whole shelves of books that I started reading and then forgot about because something else more exciting came along. They’re my, “I’ll go back to that eventually” books. I almost never go back. There are too many new books!
It’s not like I’m reading much of those books before abandoning them either. I’ll get a chapter in and then think, “Hey! Wait! I have the new Colum McCann here somewhere!”
The point is, I’m not precious about books, and I have never been and will never be the sort of person who feels that he must finish every book that he started. So I was surprised that when I found an article on BookRiot.com about “deal breakers” that readers have, I got a little bristly!
The article lists “inappropriate treatment of suicide” as a reason to stop reading a book. Which to me sounds like, “I have very specific ideas about how and when this issue can be discussed, and I would not like to be challenged on this point.” Another reason to stop reading a book is because a female character cries all the time. I get that they’re suggesting they don’t like misogynist books, but say that. Don’t say you don’t like depictions of weepy women; say you don’t like ALL women being depicted as weepy. Most bizarre is the suggestion that one stop reading because a book doesn’t acknowledge LGBTQ relationships. Au revoir, Dickens. See you later, Austen…
I get it. Mostly the list is saying that these folks quit reading if they’re offended by something. Me? I like a bit of provocation, but maybe that’s just my thing. More upsetting to me was the comment from someone who said they don’t like reading about characters they don’t like. That is a frequent criticism, and it’s one that drives me a little crazy. It’s so limiting! The last two books I read were Alissa Nutting’s peek into the mind of a female sexual predator, TAMPA, and Peter Stenson’s meth addicts in the post-apocalypse novel FIEND. Not a likeable soul in either book, but both were fascinating, discomfiting, challenging reads.
I think it boils down to this: I abandon books all the time if they don’t grab hold of me. Once I’m invested, though, I’ll stick with something. The idea of a checklist of reasons you might stop reading, though…that just seems limiting.
But maybe it’s just me. What about all of you? When/why do you give up on books?